'vintage wedding' Category

(Uncrafty) Bride on a Budget and Food: Canapes and Wedding Breakfast / Buffet for a DIY Wedding

I have to begin with the canapes.  Such things of rainbow beauty.


L-R: Apple Alices, Rainbow Swirl Biscuits, Rainbow Bakewell Slices

As we arrived at our reception venue around 3pm – tea time – it seemed very fitting to have baked canapes.  My dear friend and bridesmaid, Helen, made a selection of baked goods as a gift to us (we paid for ingredients but the time, energy and love she put in were frankly invaluable).  As well as perfectly jammy and almondy bakewells, delicate biscuits, fresh, moist apple slices and perfect lemon drizzle cupcakes, Helen made pesto and cheese swirls as a savoury alternative.

Two of my young nephews helped Helen to plate up on pink heart doilies (thanks, Aunt Julie) the morning of the wedding. Then, while we were off getting married at the lovely Tenterden Town Hall with our loved ones witnessing, Kench Hill staff put out the canapes on this colourful length of IKEA fabric (it’s machine washable, so is now our reusable tablecloth for kids’ parties and other celebrations) and were ready to serve with non-alcoholic fizz and prosecco when we pulled up in the sunshine outside this gorgeous, Georgian house.

Wedding Breakfast / Buffet

We chose a hot and cold buffet as our main meal, as it fitted with the Garden Party vibe of the afternoon reception.  We all ate at a mixture of picnic and round tables, in the beautiful grounds, between two ponds, with the buffet laid out in a gazebo.  When we first visited, Sandi, who runs Kench Hill, suggested that the best way to plan feeding all our guests would be to name a budget, and then figure out what they could do within that that met everyone’s dreams and needs.  This made so much more sense than trying to adapt our budget around the set price list most venues present, and ending up with a meal that didn’t quite satisfy.  I’ll be honest – it was mildly terrifying not knowing what the food was going to taste like on the day.  However, I needn’t have worried. It was utterly delicious, with plenty to go round for children and adults, vegetarian and non-vegetarian alike.  It was an added bonus knowing that it was, on the whole, locally or sustainably produced, with the vegetables fresh from the kitchen garden.

We wrote up a table order that prioritised tables by number of children and number of vegetarians, to make sure that those with dietary requirements we knew of weren’t left with no choices.

Some of the locally, sustainably-produced foods in the hot and cold buffet

Evening Rolls 

During the evening music, poetry and dancing, we were laid out a smorgasbord of locally-baked rolls and fillings for us to self-serve.  The rolls were so good, you could eat one with nothing on.

Bar Snacks and Biscuits 

As well as having the baked canapes, buffet and evening rolls, we had boxes of crisps and other typical bar snacks on the bar, and biscuits and cakes in the kitchen.

Alternatives: DIY BBQs and Pot Luck Buffets 

During the planning process – before we found Kench Hill – we thought about having a pot luck buffet at a London venue.  The plan for this would have been for us to supply some staple foods, like a huge stew or curry and some cooked salmon, then to ask guests to bring a dish to share.  Personally, I think this idea only works if the majority of guests live locally, so they don’t have to travel with food, and if there are delis and shops nearby for out-of-town guests to pick up things like bread or dips to contribute.

A popular DIY wedding breakfast is the BBQ.  We had a barbeque for guests staying the night before the wedding – about forty people.  I would recommend overcatering for the wedding itself, imagining that each adult will have two plates of BBQ food, and bulking up on salads, deli foods and breads. We were lucky to have close relatives and friends to help out with the Friday BBQ, making utterly amazing salads and diversifying the vegetarian options.

Breakfast / Brunch Buffet

My lovely sister and stepmum provided a breakfast / brunch buffet, with a range of food to keep everyone going as we prepared the venue and ourselves for the wedding.

The Wedding Cake 

Helen convinced us that it was a good idea to have a centrepiece cake to cut, and she was so right.  She made the most delicious, double-height chocolate cake, iced with a rainbow.  We included the cake cutting as part of our more personal rituals at the reception, and have very affectionate memories of it.

Cut the cake, and eat! 

Photo by Tracy Morter 

A Guide to Organising Low Cost Wine and Drinks for Your Wedding, by the Uncrafty Bride on a Budget

Photo by Tracy Morter

For us, one of the key aspects of our low-cost, DIY wedding was that, wherever possible, it should be low cost for our guests, too.  I read a few scary stories online about couples who had got freebie weddings by getting loved ones to pay £150 per night for three nights in a country house, then had an extortionately priced bar with no free drinks for guests, costing guests around a grand for the whole thing while costing the hosts very little – that kind of thing.  We didn’t want that.

We did, however, want to see our guests properly ‘watered’.  A disappointing scenario for the kind of party we wanted to throw would have been for the booze to run out mid-wedding.  Here’s how guests ended up going home with wine in their trunks and cool bags, instead.  (Clue: it does have to do with our friends and family being utterly lovely.)

1. Decide what you want to provide as a host

We knew that we wanted to provide guests with a glass of fizz at the Town Hall after the ceremony, as well as fizz on arrival at the reception venue.  We also knew that we wanted to provide enough wine to go with the meal.  We wanted there to be tasty options for friends who are teetotal, do not drink for religious reasons or were driving.

2. Decide on a budget

If you’re going to start married life on an even keel financially, you need to decide on a budget and stick to it.  We knew that we could budget around £6 per bottle of fizz, £5 per bottle of wine and £3 per non-alcoholic toasting fizz, in order to cater for half a bottle of fizz per adult, and between half a bottle and a full bottle of wine per adult.  You may find a wine calculator useful – you will also know your guests and their preferences and limits.

3. Decide on your search terms

Most weddings we have been to have had perfectly acceptable wine.  Neither of us could remember any outstanding wines, from weddings we had been guests at.  However, nor could we remember any disappointing wines.  We couldn’t recall any bold choices.  For us, the perfect wedding wine had to be ‘inoffensive’ and ‘perfectly quaffable’.

It turned out, we were particularly pleased with both the prosecco and white wines we chose – Aldi’s famously good value Belletti Prosecco and their delicious Chardonnay.  These wines got really good feedback from our guests and we wished we had bought more of the white as, unusually (and in spite of us buying more that we calculated we needed), it was the white that ran out towards the end of the meal.  However, in spite of our enthusiasm for it —  we call Aldi’s Pinot Noir our ‘house wine’ — the red was more hit and miss, although that may have been due to the heat of the day and sod’s law, as that was the wine we had bought a bigger surplus of as we’re used to people hunting red wine at a party!

We also decided that, due to the quantity we were buying, the wines needed to have as small a carbon footprint as possible for our budget, so we went for European wines (French and Italian, in the end) so they didn’t have to travel too far.

4. Do your research 

Aldi and Majestic do mixed cases of wines, so you can get willing friends and family involved in trying out different options in the run up to your wedding. You don’t have to get a pre-mixed case from Aldi – as long as you order in multiples of six, you can mix and match as you see fit.

For the non-alcoholic options, supermarkets offering deliveries often have deals in the summer months.  It’s good to have a range of options, if possible, such as elderflower and fruit presses (sparkling drinks) as well as the more typical Schloer.

5. Instead of a paying bar, have a bring and share bar 

This is where our guests’ loveliness came into it.  We had a bring and share bar, which was unstaffed.  Friends and family brought whatever they wanted and added it to the large, sheltered table outdoors, then helped themselves as the day went by.  We provided these non-plastic, biodegrable, Magritte-ish cups, some reusable beakers from the pound shop that we donated to the venue afterwards, some mixers and a couple of huge ice buckets, which Tenterden Majestic very kindly assisted us with.

This is, of course, a really cost effective option for guests, too.

 

Around the bring and share bar. Photo by www.tracymorter.com

6.   Get the ale drinkers together 

My husband, inspired by another friend’s wedding, started a ‘Real Ale Fund’, where all the ale drinkers contributed to have boxes (like small kegs) of local bright beer delivered.  He worked out that for £10 a head, there would be enough for everyone to have plenty of pints… then got the fear as that sounded far too reasonable, and doubled the amount.  It turned out that there was a little under half the amount left over the next day, and a couple of people went home with ale sloshing about in their car boots! So a tenner a head would be feasible.

7. Have unlimited tea, coffee, squash and water available, as well as bar snacks 

We may come from two big Irish families, but cliches are exactly that.  Thanks to our venue, guests were able to help themselves to tea, coffee, herbal teas and squash all day (which I bought in with a big supermarket delivery on the Friday we arrived).  We put tins of typical English biscuits with the tea, and large boxes of pub snacks on the bar.

8. Know your supermarkets

According to a recent study (ahem), Lidl and Aldi have the best wines.  We also rate the fairtrade range by co-op, although they don’t do delivery.  Our back up in case Aldi had any problems delivering was the beautifully-designed Majestic Loves range.  The label designs are just perfect for a celebration.

 

Cheers! Slainte! Salut! Chai yo!

 

 

 

 

A Perfect Venue for an Idyllic Weekend Wedding on a Budget



Gorgeous photos of the idyllic venue by our friend Natalie S.

When we started planning our wedding, we each made a list of what was most important to us.  One of the things that came to the top was it being somewhere our family and friends could spend a portion of time all together, making a sort of special world for a couple of days.  Some of our favourite weddings as guests included those where we had experienced this – at a coastal fort in Cornwall, in a row of village B&Bs in Wensleydale.   Of course, we recognised that as we were marrying slightly later down the road than other friends had, many of our guests would have commitments to families, jobs, etc., and not everyone would be able to (or want to) spend the weekend away, so it also needed to be somewhere within driving and public transport (ish) distance of our part of London.  We also knew if it was going to be low cost for us, it had to be low cost for our guests, as well – anything else just didn’t make sense.

We were free to decorate in our own style. Photo by Tracy Morter

We started out looking at Youth Hostels; I have a lifelong passion for the places.  We found YHAs with amazing potential for the kind of wedding we were planning: YHA Hartington Hall and YHA Ilam Hall in Derbyshire and YHA Wilderhope Manor in Shropshire have wedding packages.  Other YHAs, such as YHA Hawkshead in the Lake District, were very accommodating about figuring something out.  However, in the end, we felt they were all too far from our home for us to even make a viewing visit by public transport, which meant they definitely wouldn’t have been convenient for many of our guests.

Through a link a relative sent, we came across the amazing Kench Hill, in Kent.  Kench Hill is a charity that creates educational adventures in nature and wildlife for children and young people from Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Newham.  It’s an old, Georgian mansion on the outside, with 3* hostel accommodation of dormitories, single, double and family rooms inside.  Revenue raised from hosting weddings helps to support their brilliant work with children from East London.

Georgian Manion on the outside… Kench Hill. Photo by Natalie S.

I made an easy visit by train (from Charing Cross, but could have also gone from St. Pancras) and a pretty bus ride on a scorching hot day in late Spring. Kench Hill manager, Sandi, picked me up from the beautiful, old High Street in Tenterden – where I noticed the Town Hall, with its picturesque balcony, surrounded by flowers, as a ceremony venue. As we drove into Kench Hill, I knew: This must be the place. 

The front lawn was perfect for canapes and drinks and our handfasting.  The spacious, pretty gardens by the duck pond and lake, with a mix of wooden tables and round dining tables, made a beautiful, relaxed English garden party setting for the wedding breakfast.  The long kitchen gardens made a lovely, sunlit walk.  There were hens and ducks about. Children played happily between the Wendy House and small outdoor toys in the enclosed area by the meal, or on the swings by the front lawn, while older children played basketball and babyfoot.  The night before the wedding, we had a BBQ down by the thatched hut, which was all lit up with candles.  We dressed the Straw Hall with fairy lights and colourful pom poms, votives, bunting and paper flowers for the reception’s speeches and open mic.  We filled the alcove with photo bunting, to which guests added memories, poems, crafts and photos, as our guest book.  The bar was outdoors, under a wooden shelter, lit by a storm light.  There was even a little camping in the top meadow.

A relaxed, English wedding breakfast in the grounds of Kench Hill.

Photo by Tracy Morter

Ducks and wildflowers at Kench Hill on the wedding day. Photo by Natalie S. 

The Straw Hall, ready for music, poetry and speeches. Photo by Natalie S. 

Sandi and her team made everything incredibly easy, relaxed and personal.  Whenever I worried I was asking too many questions, or being demanding, Sandi and her colleagues’ responses came back light, flexible and positive.  We really felt that they wanted our wedding to be whatever we dreamed of it. Kench Hill promotes sustainability and a love of life, and the atmosphere is full of that hope and gentle joie de vivre.  We were able to provide our own drinks and partly self-cater.  The food Kench Hill catered was brilliant too – but that’s for another post.

To contact Kench Hill, see their website or facebook.   You can also see photos on their facebook of other weddings, each with a totally different look, which shows the flexibility of the venue for glorious, DIY, budget weddings.  We found our fab photographer Tracy Morter as she had shot a previous wedding at Tenterden Town Hall and Kench Hill – you can see photos of that gorgeous, and, again, totally different, wedding, here.

 

Should You Book a Professional Photographer for a Budget Wedding?

It’s a question that everyone planning a wedding on a budget comes to ask at some point.

Some people argue that with our cultural propensity towards documenting nearly everything on our tech and our access to decent cameras, we should be able to ask our friends and family to email their photos along after a wedding.  I have been truly skint and am not about to tell people to find money that simply doesn’t exist – however, if you have any room in your budget for booking a professional photographer for at least part of your event, after our brilliant experience with Tracy Morter, I would strongly recommend you make that booking.

Our wedding was all handmade, hand-me-downs, made with love and colour and not always great craft.  We trusted that it would feel amazing on the day, and that the love infusing everything from decorations to clothes to flowers would make it look spectacular as a whole.  However, we also wondered how well it would translate to photographs, unless they were taken by someone who really had a way of getting to the human experience behind the image.

We met our photographer over Skype and realised how excellent her communication skills were when we finally understood that, due to a glitch at our end, she could only see our shoulders for the duration of the Skype call.  Despite this, Tracy had a calm, clear, personable manner and understood everything we were hoping for.  On the day, these people skills were shining – many of our friends and family said how nice it was to meet our friend who took the photos.

Tracy captured each and every one of our one hundred or so guests at their happiest and most emotional.  It was an absolute treat for us to see the day we remembered wasn’t a figment of our imagination – and if it was, everyone was sharing that same, fantastic, loving, colourful world, including our photographer.  She also took amazing photos of our friends and family (and selves) during the open mic / informal concert – luckily for us, she also shoots live music and poetry performances.

 

You don’t have to have a full day booking – consider what means most to you, and see if that fits your chosen photographer’s schedule.  You might, for example, be met at the ceremony, then say goodbye to official photos after the first dance.  Of course, it is still a sizeable chunk of a budget – but, if you do have the opportunity to have your wedding photographed by someone who can really show how it felt and what it meant, as well as recording it at its most beautiful, then it is one not to be missed.

And if you are in South East England, and would like a documentary / reportage style that really shows the relationships that make weddings such an extraordinary bit of human time, we would – obviously! – recommend Tracy Morter.  A handful of our favourite photos are on this post – but as we have decided generally not to share photos of our guests (a shame, because these photos are STUNNING), if you would like to see more examples of Tracy’s documentary style, here are her facebook and website.

All photos by Tracy Morter

 

Low Waste, Upcycled Buttonholes (Boutonnieres) – Easy Wedding Crafts for the (Un)Crafty Bride on a Budget

Of all the makes for the wedding, this is the one I had to practise the most before finding something I was happy with.  The initial attempts included glitter foam and pyschedelic, pink and orange rosebuds – they ended up on our flower girl baskets.

Finally, after quite a few glue gun blisters and times spent lying on the carpet in a world of self-doubt, I made these.

Bow Tie and Kerchief from Le Colonel Moutarde

I made these buttonholes based on a tutorial in ‘Handmade Weddings’ by Moyle, Moyle and Faust (Chronicle Books), which was kindly handed down to me by the teacher of one of my preschooler’s activities.  Mine are a more-rustic adaptation.

Here’s a How To…

Materials:

Old clothes (my daughters’ outgrown winter dress and summer dress, in rainbow colours)

White felt, leftover from a craft project

Florist wire (also used for the bouquets)

A second-hand pair of dark green corduroy trousers

Wool (leftover from pom pom making)

Glue gun and glue sticks

Pins with rainbow heads (ebay)

Scissors

Method: 

  1. Cut strips out of the old clothes and felt, measuring approx. 3″ (7.5cm) wide and about 5-6″ (12-15cm) long.
  2. Fold them in half, lengthways.
  3. Cut into the fold, stopping about 1/4 inch from the edge of the fabric. Make these cuts all the way along the length, with about 1/8 inch between each. This will create a fringe effect.*
  4. Pipe a line of hot glue along the uncut edge, then roll the uncut length up tightly, having shifted the tips of the fringe to a slight angle away from the direction you’re rolling in (the angle isn’t essential, but creates a nicer shape if you are able to do it).*
  5. Fluff up the bud.
  6. Glue in a piece of florist wire.
  7. Cut a leaf shape out of your chosen green fabric.
  8. Put two buds together, and fold the base of the leaf around them, sealing (inside) with hot glue.
  9. Double up the florist wire to make a more substantial ‘stem’ and wrap this loop with either brown or green wool.

Et voila! Les boutonnieres!

* High Tech Paper demonstration of 3 and 4:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A link to Handmade Weddings 

(Un)Crafty Bride on a Budget: The Wedding Dress

A dozen years, or so, before my wedding.  I ask my mum to make me a white version of this green Jigsaw dress, with a slit up the leg as well as a ruffle.   She says Yes.  I am single.  She says she will figure out how to make it when the time comes.  She is trying not to laugh.  She will do it, though.

http://saranesbitt.co.uk/2011/08/22/week-eleven-of-why-so-many-clothes-the-best-of-clothes-the-worst-of-clothes/

Four years before our wedding, when our first daughter is tiny, and my mum has recently died, I watch a lot of Don’t Tell the Bride.  I fantasise about what my wedding dress scene would be (although we are not engaged).  I imagine my husband would find something lovely, and very thoughtful, but I would be in West Cork, in Alice Halliday’s studio, giving her my mum’s and granny’s linens to make something like this wedding dress she made from the bride’s grandma’s tablecloths

When I propose to my husband, a year and a bit before our wedding, we consider a last-minute, seven-weeks-away booking on the (don’t-think-too-much-about-it) cancelledweddings.co.uk .  I decide the dress doesn’t matter, I just dream madly of a simple shift, this amazing cape by Alice Halliday (made for Florence Welch) and these R. Soles boots.

We settle down, decide a real budget, and I realise my £150 dress and shoes budget won’t quite cover one boot.  

A year before the wedding, I find, on ebay, a white version of my green jigsaw dress, with a slit up the leg as well as a ruffle.  It’s £79; it’s an original 1990s Ghost dress, probably one I eyed up as a child, seeing the perfect wedding dress.  It’s an ethereal copy of what I’d dreamed up with my mum.  

 


A few months before the wedding, I realise that a chiffon white dress and a one-of-a-kind, beaded cape and two small, gorgeous, beloved, huggable children, who will be eating a lot of chocolate wedding cake, will not mix well.  I decide to get a back up dress and to find a less delicate cape, veil or shawl.  

I order a dress from ebay, but the corset stops an inch above the waist of the bodice, and it does odd things with my body.  My oldest child suggests I sew fabric flowers onto my waist.  It seems feasible… In the end, I resell the dress for what I paid (£20).  

Can you tell one of my kids took this pic?

I try a dress on in a charity shop near work.  I decide white suits me.  I become emboldened.  I decide I will look good in anything.  This is better than the me who has been worrying about her mother’s apron in her Ghost dress, wanting there to be less of me.

I buy a back up dress on ebay for £30.

In amongst my mum’s old clothes, I think, is the rainbow catsuit she had always wanted to wear as her Mother of the Bride outfit.  It comes with a cape, I vaguely remember.  There is a studio photo of my mum wearing the ensemble, in the Seventies.  Her mum had bought it from a graduate of Central St Martin’s.*  I recall a capelet, which wouldn’t be right.  I check, anyway.  I open up the storage bag to find a flowing, sheer, rainbow cape.  My wedding cape.  

I also get hold of a rainbow mermaid dress, for when the red wine starts to flow and the dancing is in full swing and there may be spills…. and briefly consider wearing it down the aisle instead, with the cape.   


A perfectly tidy craft and study area

 

Of course, my period has to make a feature of itself at my wedding.  My cycle goes doolally, so that I will definitely be on on my wedding day. As anyone who has lived with Endometriosis knows, my paper thin, white, chiffon dress is not going to be comfortable.  My back up dress becomes The Dress.

My period got something right.  I loved The Dress; it went with the Lizzie Bennet hair.  It sat unobtrusively under my mum’s rainbow cape, which cradled me in her rainbow colours as I walked up the aisle, with and without her.  When the cape was off, The Dress held me, showed me, and was utterly comfortable.  

 

Photos by Tracy Morter www.tracymorter.com – an amazing wedding photographer

And, around midnight, I became as shiny as Tamatoa in sequins.  ShiiiiinnnnneeeeeY!

*UPDATE – THE RAINBOW CAPE DESIGNER 

I am exhilarated to have met someone online whose mum has the dress version of the rainbow catsuit and cape. It turns out the designer is Jean Varon, who is credited by some as the true inventor of the miniskirt, and who dressed Diana Rigg in The Avengers. 

I love the threads that connect us all.

(Un)Crafty Bride on a Budget: DIY Wedding Hair

Photo by (the utterly fabulous) Tracy Morter www.tracymorter.com  

 

One of the obvious areas to save money for the wedding was on hair and makeup.  I decided to do my own, which was hugely daunting as I have two daily hairstyles: down, or loose bun (or ‘flower’, as my youngest calls it).  I also have two fancy hairstyles: I can straighten my hair, or I can rag curl it.  

For the wedding, rag curls seemed most bridal and most unlike the everyday.  

I have a set of Remington Hair Envy Heated Rag Rollers, which plug in in their case and are very easy to use.  If you wanted to use zero electricity and chemicals, you could easily do this style using the more traditional method of tearing rags and applying them to damp hair.  

Rag rolling creates lovely ringlets in even the most stubborn, fine, straight hair, which you can separate with fingers to make into loose curls.  

I watched a few YouTube tutorials to help me perfect my method and found this blog helpful http://offbeatbride.com/rag-curls/

My hair is fine but plentiful, straight on top with a slight wave / kink. I am of mixed white British and Irish heritage.  When I began practising, I had a long bob, which was slightly longer at the front, much like Mandy Moore in this Pinterest picture (yeah, honest…)

The bob responded pretty easily to rag curls, as in this first attempt, the summer before (planning is everything…).  

However, as I couldn’t imagine getting married without my old, long hair, I had grown it quite long by the wedding.  The back just didn’t work down by this stage – it was too haphazard and not curly enough, and was best roughly pinned up with the nicely-curled front down and loose, a la Lizzie Bennett in 1990s Pride and Prejudice.

Lizzie Bennet

I put my hair into rollers first thing on Friday, before we left London to head out to Kent to our Saturday wedding’s venue.  To keep the rolls from falling out and / or bashing me in the forehead, I wrapped them in this Liberty silk scarf.  My about-to-be Mother in Law tidied up the back into the scarf for me when we got there, which I really appreciated, as the back kept unrolling.  

Day Before Hair

 

On the wedding day, I got extremely nervous about taking out the rolls, so one of my lovely bridesmaids came into the bathroom with me as moral support.  Once unrolled, it was fine and dandy. I swept back my hair into the shape I wanted, and my lovely friend helped me pin it up.  Honestly, if we could put this together in a tiny mirror in a dormitory bathroom with a puddle of wasps on the floor, you can DIY your hair, gorgeous ones!  Just before we left, my wonderful sister fixed in my rainbow mermaid comb, made for me by the massively talented Irish designer Alice Halliday from sea pottery and shells (http://www.alicehalliday.com/ ).

 

Alice Halliday comb – this is bespoke, but others are available on Alice’s Etsy shop https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/AliceHalliday 

I avoided using hair spray as no matter what I did during practice runs, my very fine hair ended up heavy and crispy with it.  I had put a curl activator through it on Friday morning.  The key is to roll up your hair when it’s damp, and to trust it to dry out overnight.  The curls really stick for hours, and fall out elegantly enough. Here they are at nearly midnight…

Back to the day of the wedding… After the ceremony, back at the reception venue, I needed to fix my hair and completely lost the ability.  We were still waiting for the second mini-coach to bring guests, so I had a few minutes to fix it.  One of my oldest friends happened to bump into me as I came out of the bathroom having given up.  She sat me down in the breakfast room and the two of us caught up as she gave me a new hairstyle in five minutes flat – something she had last done in 2002 when we were students.  Complete with rainbow mermaid comb, it was magical.

Photos by Tracy Morter www.tracymorter.com

It was important to me to get my hair right for the wedding, and I am very happy with how it turned out.  My hair and I have history.  I grew up with bum length hair, and chopped it all off not long after my mum died, while I was caring for my newborn, first child.  I wrote about that here http://saranesbitt.co.uk/2013/03/14/cutting-my-own-hair-short-an-act-of-grief-identity-or-silliness/

 

(Un)Crafty Bride on a Budget: Handmade Fabric Bouquets, Origami Flowers, and Flower Baskets

Making our wedding flowers was a long and rewarding part of preparing for a highly personal, low-cost and (relatively) environmentally-friendly wedding.  I’m posting about this first, as if you’re planning to make your own flowers, it’s good to start early, so you can pick up and put down this project as time, leading up to your wedding, goes by.  I had never made flowers before, and with some help from friends and strangers, was able to make my own bouquet, and my seven (!) bridesmaids’.

Here is my bouquet — made from the petticoat of my daughters’ outgrown, 2-year-old-size summer dress.

Why would I have needed to make flowers?

Wedding flowers cost hundreds of pounds, cheap cut flowers are often not friendly to the environment.  What’s an uncrafty bride on a budget to do?

Make flowers.  

What sort of flowers? You may well have a theme or colours for your wedding.  For years, I held onto a dream of having a rainbow of bridesmaids; however, after looking at a few Pinterest images, I decided it didn’t work visually.  I had seen that when a group of bridesmaids stood in a line wearing dresses in every colour of the rainbow, they looked like a rainbow, but I imagined that as soon as they reconfigured or mingled or moved – which I very much wanted my bridesmaids to do – they’d look like guests, in block colours.  

The rainbow was still an important motif for a number of reasons, but another one had become important: my bridesmaids as backing singers.  These were the women who had been there at all the important times, who brought the glamour of true friendship and love.  They have always been with me, backing me. I love backing singers.

I also wanted my loved ones to be comfortable.  So, I asked my bridesmaids to wear their little black dresses (or catsuits / trouser suits / skirts and tops), like backing singers, and to each choose a colour to accessorise with.  Then I made bouquets in their rainbow colours.  

Photo by the brilliant Tracy Morter (www.tracymorter.com ). Three brilliant women. Three out of seven rainbow flowers…

As established in my ‘Why So Many Clothes?’ diary (http://saranesbitt.co.uk/2011/06/12/why-why-so-many-clothes/), during which I wore everything in my enormous wardrobe, I have a tendency towards holding onto clothes.  This meant that when it came to finding meaningful materials to make my flowers, I had plenty.  

I used fabric from our daughters’ outgrown summer dresses.  Around the necks, there were the usual toddler stains etc., which meant they were not good hand-me-downs.  However, much of the fabric was gorgeous and colourful and, importantly, connected to our union.  If you’re making your own bouquets from old clothes, first date clothes might be another interesting fabric, or anything that is unwearable but has some kind of history.

A friend added me to the Facebook group, A Make Do and Mend Life, early on in wedding preparations.  This helped a lot: a community of people who are generous with their skills and advice and gently passionate about conservation.  I was advised to get myself a glue gun and given some ideas on how to make the fabric into flowers.

The method I went with in the end was a combination of several, and well suited to my rudimentary craft skills.  

  1. Cut a strip of fabric, about 2-3 inches wide (4-5 cm), and longer than 12 inches (30cm).  
  2. Thread a needle with a length of cotton, doubling it up and tying several knots in the end so that the knot hooks onto the fabric when you make the first stitch (much like you will have learned at Primary School).
  3. Tack along one long edge of the fabric strip (to tack means to do a very basic stitch, in and out. I know this from a friend who customises all her clothes. She is amazing).
  4. When you get to the end, pull.  The fabric will gather along the edge with the stitches in.  Pinch this fabric between your fingers as it gathers, so it forms the base of a bloom.
  5. Poke a piece of florist wire inside the gathered fabric.  
  6. Apply hot glue to it from your hot glue gun.
  7. Squeeze the fabric into the hot glue to stick the wire to the flower and cover up any dodgy stitching (being careful not to touch any hot glue so you don’t burn yourself).
  8. When you have made enough flowers for a bunch, wrap all the flowers together with florist tape.  This tape doesn’t appear sticky until you apply a mild stretch to it and then it activates – great fun.

 

Total Cost: approx £26

Fabric – reused (free)

Hot glue gun with glue sticks – approx £20

Florist tape – approx £3 per roll

Florist wire – appox £3 for 100 ‘stems’

Time: on and off for months.  Once you get the hang of it, you can make three or four at a time while catching up with a TV show, listening to a bit of music, or even having a drink and chat.

Floppier fabrics were less useful; starchy cottons were best.  I filled in smaller bouquets with woolly pom poms (more on those in another post).  This is my picture of the bouquets, their stems wrapped with tissue just in case the English summer got really hot and the wax on the florist tape bled (almost wishful thinking…)

After the ceremony, the flowers went back to the venue and into glass jars on the tables.


A Little Rustic Stitching…

 

Flower Girl Baskets

As well as the bouquets, we decorated two baskets found in a local charity shop with the fabric flowers.  Two lovely friends and I spent a fun evening trial and erroring making origami flowers, finally finding a video we could follow on YouTube.

We filled the flower baskets with the origami flowers and they were scattered to make a colourful path down the aisle.  It was a perfect way of bringing our wedding into the Town Hall.  

Total Cost: £6

Origami paper – friends decluttering (free)

Baskets – £6 from charity shops

 

Time: a very enjoyable evening, plus a few extra origami flower making sessions while watching First Dates.  

With huge thanks to Natalie S for additional photos.

The Origami Flowers, made from this YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jm_4hFPFAOU

 

(Un)Crafty Bride on a Budget

I’ll be posting regular DIY wedding blog posts with

  • Tips on creating a personal, beautiful DIY wedding
  • Low-cost ways to make your wedding day perfect on a budget
  • Environmentally-friendly, sustainable options
  • Links to professionals who are excellent at what they do
  • Especially for the enthusiastic, give-it-a-go, non-crafty crafters and DIYers, like me!
  • A whole lot of love